British pork exports to the EU face tariffs of up to 45% under a no-deal Brexit, a report by the National Pig Association (NPA) has warned.
In stark contrast, the UK government would impose a maximum tariff of just 5% on imported pigmeat to ensure a cheap supply is maintained, the report by NPA senior policy adviser Ed Barker suggested.
The low level set is due to Britain’s reliance on imports, which account for about 60% of UK consumption.
The government fears that if higher tariffs were maintained in line with existing EU levels, UK consumers would face disruption to supply and volatile prices post Brexit, according to Mr Barker’s report.
Access to the UK market will apply to imports from any countries, including the US and EU member states wishing to sell pork. The only exception is the Republic of Ireland, for which the government plans to allow tariff-free access.
For UK exports, Mr Barker warned that the £50m/year cull sow market could be thrown into jeopardy by the tariff level.
“There is no market for cull sow meat in the UK and the product is mainly exported to Germany. However, this meat would attract a 45p/kg tariff, rendering it uneconomic.”
According to AHDB figures, the £50m loss of the market would equate to a cut of 2-3p/kg across all finished pigs.
NPA no-deal Brexit report key points
- UK would face pork export tariffs to EU up to 45%
- Import tariffs just 5%
- UK exports face added inspection in Europe
- USA and EU countries handed UK market access
- Exports to China face uncertainty
- Trade or processing disruption equivalent to 170,000 pigs/week held up on farms
The full report is available via the NPA website.
Exports beyond the EU also face uncertainties. For example, the potentially large Chinese market – currently worth £78m/year to UK producers – may not be accessible until an agreement is in place, Mr Barker said.
British officials have made contact with Chinese authorities to enquire about arrangements in the event of no deal being reached with the EU.
Although the Chinese authorities appear to have acknowledged the enquiry, there is no clear assurance that UK pork will have access, Mr Barker added.
The report also raises welfare and transport concerns. About 90% of livestock medicine is imported from the EU, causing concern over supply and potentially increased costs in a no-deal scenario.
Meanwhile, delays in obtaining health certification, added inspection times and extra transport administration, could result in a slowdown in pig movements from farms.
Estimates suggest the extra time needed to approve and move pigs equates to 170,000 pigs a week being held back on farms, which would need to provide additional space, labour and feed.